Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte is seen in a Jeep near a Discovery Drive building after an assault on a reporter on May 24.

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A Gallatin County Justice Court judge granted Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte's request to extend the time he has to appear on his misdemeanor assault charge.

However, the judge did not grant Gianforte's request to set a specific hearing day, meaning that he must appear during regularly scheduled open court dates.

In an order issued Tuesday, Judge Rick West ordered that Gianforte, who is accused of "body slamming" a reporter on the night before the election, must now appear on the charge on or before June 20.

Justice Court holds open court on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, meaning Gianforte currently has five opportunities to appear before the June 20 deadline.

The extension came after Gianforte's defense team Bill Mercer of Billings and Todd Whipple of Bozeman filed a motion Tuesday afternoon, asking for a two-week extension of Gianforte's original June 7 deadline to appear. The motion also requested that West set a specific date for Gianforte to appear.

The defense said they were seeking the motion because the parties are "exploring" a settlement. 

Gianforte, 56, is accused of assaulting Ben Jacobs, a reporter with the Guardian newspaper, after Jacobs reportedly asked him a question about health care at Gianforte's Bozeman campaign headquarters on May 24. Montana voters elected Gianforte to the U.S. House the next day.

 

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Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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